Dear Interested Readers,
Thanks to an interested reader Fred, a map of Iraq has been added to the website. High level insurgents continue to be captured, and a story close to my heart is the running of Camp Bucca, where I've sent many care packages. There's a most interesting and untold story about the behind the scene workings of the CIC Soldiers. "All in a Day's Work" is so well written, and a story guaranteed to please.
Multi-National Corps - Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342
March 17, 2008
Iraqi SF, U.S. SF detain 3 suspected insurgents in Mosul
BALAD - Iraqi SF, advised by U.S. SF, detained the suspected leaders of 2 different IED cells and one cell member operating in Mosul on March 14.
The Ninawa Iraqi SWAT team captured the suspected leader of a 15 man cell responsible for kidnapping and mortar attacks against FOB Marez. The suspect is also allegedly responsible for IED placement and small arms fire attacks. The ISWAT also detained a suspected member of the cell.
In another op in Mosul, Iraqi Special Ops Forces (SOF) detained a suspected murderer and insurgent. The suspect is believed to work with several insurgent groups.
728th MPs hold special run in Iraq
Lt. Col. Brian Bisacre, left, and Comm. Sgt. Maj. Gerald Stegemeier hold the Special Olympics torch as they cross the finish line. The run helped raise money for the Special Olympics in Hawaii and allowed Soldiers to boost their morale by participating in the 5K race.
March 16, 2008
Coalition disrupts al-Qaeda networks throughout Iraq, 15 detained
BAGHDAD – Coalition forces detained 15 suspected terrorists Saturday and Sunday during ops to disrupt al Qaeda networks operating in central and northern Iraq.
Coalition forces captured an alleged associate of an al Qaeda-in-Iraq (AQI) senior leader responsible for terrorist propaganda ops. The suspect is also believed to be involved in propaganda activities and connected to various other associates of the AQI network in Baghdad. In addition to the wanted individual, CF detained 7 suspected terrorists on site.
Also in Baghdad, CF captured 2 alleged associates of VBIED cells in the capital city. Reports indicate the suspects are connected to various AQI leaders throughout the capital city. Intel reports led the ground force to the location where one of the wanted individuals was believed to be operating and he was detained without incident. The first suspect then led CF to a follow-on location, where the other wanted individual was detained.
During continued efforts to degrade the AQI networks in northern Iraq, CF detained 5 suspects during 2 separate ops. In Mosul, CF detained 2 suspected terrorists while targeting an alleged associate of several leaders involved in the city’s AQI network. Another 3 suspects were detained west of Bi’aj, while targeting an alleged associate of a foreign terrorist facilitation network in the region.
“Iraqi and CF efforts to dismantle AQI reach into every corner of the country,” said Maj. Winfield Danielson, an MNF-I spokesman. “Al Qaeda’s extremist ideology and indiscriminate violence are turning away even its most sympathetic former supporters. A tough fight remains ahead, and we'll continue to attack the terrorist networks, increasing public safety and security for all Iraqis.”
Running a City in Southern Iraq
CAMP BUCCA – Sewers, water, electricity, trash and fuel are services vital to any city in the United States, and urban populations simply cannot function effectively without proper city management oversight.
Approx. 30 members of Oklahoma's 1st Bn, 160th FAR, 45th IBCT face these same challenges in the middle of a desert in southern Iraq. The Guard members manage a facility with a population of more than 26,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, contractors, Dept. of Defense civilians and detainees at Camp Bucca. The camp sits starkly in the middle of the desert -- all commodities and goods must be trucked into the desolate base camp.
"We are running a city," said 160th Rear Area Ops Center cmdr., Lt. Col. David Jordan.
Many of Oklahoma's 45th soldiers work in the Theatre Interment Facility, which holds about 20,000 detainees. The detainees are being detained as an imperative threat to the country's security in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution.
In addition to managing services and life support for the camp, the soldiers will also work to improve living conditions at the facility. "We're going to increase our gym space to 5,700 square feet," said Jordan. Other projects include a multi-sport field, boxing ring, new office space, ice factory, wastewater treatment plant, improvements to the chapel and a new housing area called Knoxville.
Among the numerous projects to be supervised and managed by the RAOC soldiers are 1,000 new beds for service members -- many soldiers currently live in tents. "The goal is to provide more containerized housing units on our base," said Jordan. "We have several couples waiting on the new housing in Knoxville," said Sgt. 1st Class Mitchell Brickey, who supervises the housing of all troops in and out of the base camp. The camp's married couples serve together, but can't live together due to a lack of married housing.
The Oklahomans work hand in hand with Iraqi contractors to oversee the construction of all new projects. "We still function on time, on target in the field artillery. We will continue to get things done on time – deliver fire at the right time and right place," said exec. officer Maj. Woody Elmore.
The camp's concrete brick making facility is run by Iraqi contractors, and the bricks are used throughout the various construction projects on the camp. "The local Iraqi men are good to work with, and we have great cooperation with them. They take great pride in their work; it's their reputation," said Sgt. 1st Class Rafe Cummings.
"It's very beautiful – a system for everything, we work through the process and get what we need to do the project with the correct assets," said Ali Jihad, an Iraqi project manager. The Iraqi company lacked modernization during Saddam's reign. "Now we are bringing construction up to new standards," he added.
CIC Soldiers Work Behind Scene to Protect Coalition Forces
By Spc. Aaron Rosencrans
Sgt. Michael Polston, who serves as a battle NCO with the 138th Fires Bde, MND – Baghdad, analyzes an acquisition on the radar, March 13, to determine whether or not it is a threat to MND-B forces here. He said he continuously tells himself and his Soldiers, during the long hours on duty, to stay on point, because the success of the mission depends on it.
CAMP LIBERTY — Soldiers working in the MND – Baghdad’s Command Info Center (CIC) at the division HQ may not perform their duties in the limelight, yet their efforts have proven paramount to force protection efforts. Soldiers from the fires and effects cell in the CIC continuously monitor the skies and provide a level of protection against indirect-fire attacks on the bases and outposts in and around Baghdad.
“It’s my job to determine if something the radar picks up is a threat or not,” said Pfc. Rusty Williams. “If we conduct a counter-fire mission, it's my job to call for the air space to be cleared before we return fire at the point of origin of the indirect-fire attack.”
Williams said he received extensive training on the radar systems before he deployed to Iraq to serve in Op Iraqi Freedom. “The system we use is fairly complex, but it immediately tells us where the attack came from and where the round is going,” he said.
Sgt. Michael Polston, said it's his job to ensure each target acquisition is properly processed. Polston serves as the battle NCO with HHB, 138th Fires Bde, which is a national guard unit based out of Lexington, Ky.
“Without processing the acquisition properly, we wouldn’t be able to quickly send a response unit to the attack’s point of origin,” he said. The Soldiers said the mission gets stressful at times because of the high demands of their job. “You can’t just leave whenever you want to,” said Polston. “Someone has to always be monitoring the computers in case something happens.”
Part of the stress the Soldiers feel while working in the cell is due to the long hours they sit in front of the computers.
For their continuous efforts, Polston said he and his fellow Soldiers have learned to operate without much in return. “It’s mostly a thankless job, aside from the occasional ‘good job’ we get from our leadership,” he said. “But we don’t need to be thanked. Our reward will be returning to our homes after our deployment.”
All In a Day’s Work: Soldiers Meet with Sheikhs, Chase Insurgents
By Sgt. Ben Brody
4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
Sgt. Christopher Humes, chats with an Iraqi child during a meeting with tribal leaders to discuss humanitarian and infrastructure aid projects in Musayyib.
FOB KALSU — “It seems quiet out there, but there’s always a calm before the storm,” said the burly platoon sergeant as he tightened the straps on his helmet. “We've got to take care of the people and get the bad guys.” Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Williams, the plt sgt, and Soldiers of Co C, 3rd Bn, 7th Inf Regt, 4th BCT, 3rd ID, jumped in their Humvees at FOB Iskan, with that mindset the afternoon of March 9.
As the heavy vehicles lumbered through the date palm groves in Abu Jassim, near Musayyib, a group of sheikhs waved to them from the brick archway in a large farmhouse’s courtyard.
Williams and 1st Lt. Josh Ray, the plt leader, jumped out and greeted the sheikhs, as the rest of the platoon pulled security around the isolated compound. The group discussed an upcoming infrastructure project, a road paving project that they are working together to bring to fruition. The plan to pave the road would cost $24,000 and employ about 100 local laborers, according to Williams. “A lot of little kids use this road to get to school and farmers drive heavy trucks on it, so the pavement would mean less wear and tear on their vehicles,” Williams said. “We like it because it’s harder to dig an (IED) into a paved road.”
Sheikh Abbas, leader of the local SoI program, also mentioned to the group that several of his checkpoints had recently come under small-arms fire in the evenings. Sheikh Abbas, Ray and Williams agreed that more checkpoints, strategically located to counter the attacks, would be manned.
The platoon later stopped in at a local supermarket to speak to some of the local residents. Before the patrol left, Ray stepped inside and bought a case of orange soda for a group of children socializing under the store’s outside lights.